Rouse Avenue
Case BriefsDistrict Court

Rouse Avenue Court, New Delhi: While granting bail to the applicant Pramond Kumar Bhasin, Ajay Gulati, J. observed that the charge sheet has not even mentioned the role of the applicant in demanding the alleged bribe from NGO GOREF even though the employee of an NGO Ganga Orthopedic Research and Educational Foundation ‘GOREF’ who is said to have paid the bribe to the applicant through a Hawala operator, was arrested and subjected to custodial interrogation.

Ajay Gulati J granted bail to Pramod Kumar Bhasin who is a public servant accused and arrested for allegedly extracting bribe from NGO’s / institutions/ missionaries whose applications for renewal of eligibility to receive foreign grants and funds were pending in the FCRA Division, Ministry of Home Affairs. The bail was granted observing various irregularities in the investigation and in light of other accused(s) been granted bail subject to certain conditions.

Facts and legal trajectory:

The applicant is a public servant who was arrested for demanding and accepting bribes from NGOs. Allegedly, as per the FIR, the applicant demanded a bribe of Rs. 2 lakhs for processing the file of an NGO named GOREF, and received Rs. 1.5 lakhs from GOREF via its employee Mr. E. Vageesh, through a Hawala Operator. Additionally, it was also alleged in the FIR that the applicant used to handle all of his ill-gotten money through Hawala operators. In fact, during the alleged handing over of an instalment of a bribe of Rs. 4 lakhs from an alleged Hawala operator named Gajanand Sharma., one of his henchmen, Robin Devdass, was arrested red-handed by the CBI. Further, as alleged in the FIR, the applicant is said to have demanded bribes from several other NGOs as well.

It was detailed in the charge-sheet that an investigation has been conducted regarding the role of the applicant in contacting alleged Hawala operators for the handling of his ill-gotten money and also in accepting an alleged bribe of Rs. 1 lakh from a representative of Srijan Foundation- Swapan Manna, which was delivered to another Hawala operator named Vimal Tawaniya. The alleged Hawala operator Pawan Kumar Sharma was in turn handed over the said bribe by Vimal Tawaniya who is also a listed accused in the FIR

Analysis and findings:

In the Court, the Public Prosecutor for CBI strongly opposed the bail application on the ground that the role of the applicant is very serious in nature, and he is suspected to be the king-pin of the entire conspiracy involving illegal renewals of various NGOs/missionaries to receive foreign funding, for illegal monetary gains under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 ‘FCRA’

The Court noted that neither the alleged hawala operators, Gajanand Sharma and Vimal Tawaniya nor the representative of Srijan Foundation, Swapan Manna have been arrested although they have been mentioned in the charge sheet along with the present applicant. Further investigation has been kept pending, as per the charge sheet.

The Court observed that although in the FIR, the role of the applicant has been highlighted for demanding bribes from various NGOs and routing the alleged bribe received through Hawala operators, the charge sheet mentions only one such foundation which is Srijan Foundation. Additionally, the charge sheet has not even mentioned the role of the applicant in demanding the alleged bribe from NGO GOREF even though Mr. E. Vageesh, an employee of GOREF who is said to have paid the bribe to the applicant through a Hawala operator, was arrested and subjected to custodial interrogation. The court noted that the role of the applicant regarding the case of NGO GOREF seems to have been completely forgotten by the investigating officer. The court also noted that the applicant has been in custody for a period of over two months as of the day of this hearing.

On a specific query by the Court, the Public Prosecutor for the CBI submitted that he has seized the FCRA files of NGO GOREF and Srijan Foundation. However, the Court observed that there was no explanation provided as to why was the representative of Srijan Foundation and the alleged Hawala operator who was asked to handle the alleged bribe paid by Srijan Foundation, have not even been arrested despite being mentioned in the charge sheet. The Court reiterated the observation that was made while granting bail to E. Vageesh who allegedly paid the bribe to the applicant on behalf of NGO GOREF that the CBI has been adopting double standards in regard to the accused persons having same set of allegations appearing against them.

Thus, the Court concluded that the alleged Hawala operators Pawan Kumar Sharma and Ramanand Pareek who have handled the ill-gotten money of the applicant, and Mr. Anish Selvaraj (private person) who was allegedly working in close conspiracy with the applicant to contact the NGOs who were ready to pay bribes for getting their pending FCRA files expedited, have already been granted bail. Consequently, the bail application was allowed subject to some conditions.

[Pramod Kumar Bhasin v. CBI, 2022 SCC OnLine Dis Crt (Del) 28, decided on 21-07-2022]


Appearance by:  

For Accused: Sumer Singh Boparai, Abhishek Pati, Nikhil Pahwa & Sidhant Saraswat

Hot Off The PressNews

The Central Bureau of Investigation has arrested an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP), National Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai and two private persons including the Proprietor of Mumbai based firm in a  bribery case of Rs Two Lakh.

            A case was registered on complaint against an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai and unknown others on the allegations of demanding undue advantage of Rs.20 lakh for settling the NCLT matter of Complainant’s company. It was further alleged that the accused demanded initial part payment of Rs.2 lakh, out of the total demand of Rs.20 lakh from the Complainant and told him that a private person would come to collect the said amount at Pune.

            CBI laid a trap and caught the said private person while accepting the initial part payment of Rs.2 Lakh from the Complainant. Later, the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) and the Proprietor/Jeweller of Mumbai whose alleged role came in the case were also caught.

            Searches were conducted at the premises of the accused at Pune, Navi Mumbai which led to recovery of incriminating documents etc.

            All the three arrested accused are being produced today in the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Pune.


Central Bureau of Investigation

[Press Release dt. 5-5-2022]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Karnataka High Court had reversed the judgment of Karnataka Administrative Tribunal directing compulsory retirement of a Government Servant after being found guilty of bribery, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Surya Kant, JJ has held that acquittal of a person in the course of the criminal trial does not impinge upon the authority of the disciplinary authority or the finding of misconduct in the disciplinary proceeding.

Factual Background

  • The respondent, working as a Village Accountant at Revathagao in Indi Taluka of Bijapur District in Karnataka, was charged for demanding a bribe for deleting the name of a person from Column No. 11 of the RTC with regard to land bearing Survey No. 54, situated at Shirdona Village.
  • A criminal complaint was registered with the Lokayukta police against the respondent for the commission of an offence punishable under Sections 7 and 13(1) (d) read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
  • After the investigation, a charge sheet was submitted against the respondent by the Lokayukta police in Special Case No. 20 of 2011 in the Court of Special Judge at Bijapur, who gave the benefit of doubt to the respondent and acquitted him of all charges.
  • A disciplinary enquiry was initiated under Section 7(2) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act 1984 and the Lokayukta held that the charge against the respondent was proved and recommended the penalty of compulsory retirement from service.
  • The disciplinary authority held that the misconduct was proved and imposed a penalty of compulsory retirement.
  • Aggrieved by the penalty, the respondent moved the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal upheld the order of compulsory retirement.
  • The Karnataka High Court set aside the judgment of the Tribunal.

Disciplinary enquiry vis-à-vis Criminal Trial

The principles which govern a disciplinary enquiry are distinct from those which apply to a criminal trial. In a prosecution for an offence punishable under the criminal law, the burden lies on the prosecution to establish the ingredients of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The purpose of a disciplinary proceeding by an employer is to enquire into an allegation of misconduct by an employee which results in a violation of the service rules governing the relationship of employment. Unlike a criminal prosecution where the charge has to be established beyond reasonable doubt, in a disciplinary proceeding, a charge of misconduct has to be established on a preponderance of probabilities. The rules of evidence which apply to a criminal trial are distinct from those which govern a disciplinary enquiry. The acquittal of the accused in a criminal case does not debar the employer from proceeding in the exercise of disciplinary jurisdiction.

Scope of Judicial Review

In the exercise of judicial review, the Court does not act as an appellate forum over the findings of the disciplinary authority. The court does not re-appreciate the evidence on the basis of which the finding of misconduct has been arrived at in the course of a disciplinary enquiry. The Court in the exercise of judicial review must restrict its review to determine whether:

  • the rules of natural justice have been complied with;
  • the finding of misconduct is based on some evidence;
  • the statutory rules governing the conduct of the disciplinary enquiry have been observed; and
  • whether the findings of the disciplinary authority suffer from perversity; and (vi) the penalty is disproportionate to the proven misconduct.

Ruling

The Court observed that none of the above tests for attracting the interference of the High Court were attracted in the present case. The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal having exercised the power of judicial review found no reason to interfere with the award of punishment of compulsory retirement. The Division Bench of the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction under Article 226 and trenched upon a domain which falls within the disciplinary jurisdiction of the employer. The enquiry was conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The findings of the inquiry officer and the disciplinary authority were held to be sustainable with reference to the evidence which was adduced during the enquiry. Hence, the acquittal of the respondent in the course of the criminal trial did not impinge upon the authority of the disciplinary authority or the finding of misconduct in the disciplinary proceeding.

[State of Karnataka v. Umesh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 345, decided on 22.03.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate V N Raghupathy

For Respondent: Advocate Ashwin V Kotemath

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Sampath B Abayakoon, J. while deciding on an appeal against conviction and sentence of the appellant, dismissed the appeal as it lacked merit.

The appellant was sentenced to 8 years of rigorous imprisonment with fine along with paying Rs.9000/- against Section 26 of the Bribery Act. The Appellant, who was the land officer allegedly took bribe in order to arrange the permit for a land. The Appellant alleged that this incident was a political conspiracy at the instigation of a government minister of the area as his wife’s family members were strong supporters of an opposition political party. Most of the factual events that took place were admitted by the appellant except for the solicitation and the acceptance of the money. It was contended further that the High Court judge failed to consider the defence fairly, in the equal footing and as a whole, hence, the rejection of the defence was a misdirection.

The Court observed that the victimization because of affiliation to opposition party had happened 5 years ago and there is nothing to say that he himself was a subject of such victimization as claimed & thus, the claim has no basis. The Court also rejected the claim that money was forcibly planted to frame the appellant.

Therefore, the Court found no merit in the present case and it was subsequently dismissed.[Girigoris Jansage Lesli Senadeera v. Director-General, 2022 SCC OnLine SL CA 1, decided on 21-02-2022]


Appearances by:

Anil Silva, PC for the Accused-Appellant

Subashini Siriwardena, Addl. Director General of the Bribery Commission for the Respondent


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Division Bench of Devika Abeyratne and P. Kumararatnam, JJ. aquited the principal of the Mahanama Navodaya School in Panadura who was originally convicted in a matter related to the Bribery Act.

In the instant case, the commission had to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption on the basis of the understanding that on November 16, 2008 the appellant being in the capacity of a school principle, accepted a gratification of Rs. 25,000 in lieu of a promise to admit one of the student in the school for the year 2009. It was also further acknowledged by the commission that the accepting of the stated gratification is an offence under Section 19 (b) and 19 (C) of the Bribery Act.

The Counsel for the Appellant among the other grounds of appeal argued and, vehemently contended that the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. He submitted that the date, place or time of solicitation has not been proved and that the learned trial judge has failed to consider these important points.

Based on the arguments of both the parties, the Court of Appeal was of the opinion that there was no solid ground or contention that could be established against the appellant especially when the allegations were of such serious nature.[Thelge Nadeeka Kaumadi Peiris v. Bribery Commissioner, 2021 SCC OnLine SL CA 1, decided on 17-12-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Advocate for Appellant

Eraj De Silva with Hafeel Fariz, Janagam

Sundaramoorthy and Daminda Wijesuriya

Advocates for the respondent

Subashini Siriwardena with Anusha

Sammandapperuma

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Division Bench of Devika Abeyratne and P.  Kumararatnam, JJ., allowed an appeal and set aside the conviction and the sentence acquitting the appellant from charges of bribery on account of inconsistent evidence produced.

In this case, the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, on the directions of the Commission had indicted the accused-appellant who was the school Principal of Mahanama Navodya School in Panadura in the High Court of Colombo under section 19(b) and section 19(c) of the bribery act.The Counsel for the Appellant argued that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt since the date, place or time of solicitation had not been proved and that the trial judge had failed to consider these important points.

The Court observed that it was a trite law that it was not necessary to call a certain number of witnesses to prove a fact. However, if Court was not impressed with the cogency and the convincing character of the evidence of the sole testimony of the witness, it was incumbent on the prosecution to corroborate the evidence as stated in Sunil v. AG, 1999 (3) SLR page 191.

The Court also referred to the case of Liyanage v. Attorney, (1978-79) 2 SLR 111 CA ), to reiterate that in a trial under the Bribery Act on a charge of solicitation it is unsafe to allow a conviction to stand solely on the uncorroborated testimony of the complainant.

The Court noted that there were contradictions in the testimony of PW 1 and PW 3 which cannot be considered as minor discrepancies. On that note, the Court held that when considering the serious charge against the appellant, especially when there is no acceptable reason given why Hansani was not called as a prosecution witness, it was dangerous to rely on the sole evidence of PW 1.

The Court referred to the case of K Padmathillake v.  Director General, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, 2009 2 SLR 151 SC, where it was held that,

 “No hard and fast rule can be laid down about appreciation of evidence. It is after all a question of fact and each case has to be decided on the facts as they stand in that particular case. Where a witness makes two inconsistent statements in his evidence with regard to a material fact and circumstance, the testimony of such a witness becomes unreliable and unworthy of credence”

 It was further concluded that it was not safe to allow the conviction solely on the uncorroborated testimony of PW 1. It was observed that when considering the totality of the evidence it is apparent that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was solicitation by the appellant on the date specified in the indictment the benefit of that doubt must ensue to the appellant.[Thelge Nadeeka Kaumadi Peiris v.  Bribery Commissioner, 2021 SCC OnLine SL CA 1, decided on 17-12-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Counsel:

Eraj De Silva with Hafeel Fariz, Janagam Sundaramoorthy and Daminda Wijesuriya for the Accused-Appellant.

Subashini Siriwardena with Anusha Sammandapperuma for the Complainant-Respondent

Hot Off The PressNews

The Special Judge, CBI Cases, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) has convicted Sh. Bhola Nath Singh Yadav, then Sub Inspector. Railway Protection Force & Incharge Out-Post Rewa (Madhya Pradesh) under Sections 7 & 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) of PC Act and sentenced him to undergo 7 years Rigorous Imprisonment with fine of Rs. 2,50,000/- in a bribery case.

CBI had registered a case on 24.10.2012 against Shri Bhola Nath Singh Yadav alias B.S. Yadav, Sub-Inspector, Railway Protection Force & Incharge RPF Out-Post Rewa (Madhya Pradesh) for demanding illegal gratification of Rs. 10,00,000/- from the complainant (resident of Satna (Madhya Pradesh) & owner of Godown / Scrap Yard) for not implicating him in a false case related to the theft of 100 metres 12 Core Railway signal cable from Turki Railway Station. After negotiation, the accused agreed to accept the bribe money in two installments of Rs. 8,00,000/- & Rs. 2,00,000/- and an accepted bribe of Rs. 2,00,000/- from the complainant on 29.10.2012.

After investigation, CBI filed a charge sheet on 20.12.2012 against the accused. The Trial Court found the accused guilty and convicted him.


Central Bureau of Investigation

[Press Release dt. 24-12-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dismissing the petition seeking a writ of mandamus or any other writ or direction of similar nature to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a retired Chief Justice of India to investigate in the matter of alleged conspiracy and payment of bribes for procuring favourable order in a matter relating to Medical admissions, the 3-judge bench of RK Agarwal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar, JJ imposed the cost of Rs. 25 lakhs on the petitioner i.e. Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) represented by Advocate Prashant Bhushan and directed that the sum be deposited before the Registry of this Court within six weeks whereafter the said amount shall be transferred to Supreme Court Bar Association Advocates’ Welfare Fund.

Prashant Bhushan had submitted before the Court that the purpose of filing this petition is not to name any Judge of this Court but to protect the independence of the judiciary and in order to arrive at an impartial investigation, this Court may appoint a SIT headed by a retired Chief Justice of India. He had brought to the Court’s notice that in the FIR names of various persons have been mentioned as suspected accused along with other unknown public servants and private persons and that one does not know how many public and private persons are involved in it and the matter relates to huge gratification for inducing public servants in a matter pending before this Court.

Attoney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, said that the present petition was an abuse of the process of court as the same bench had recently dismissed the petition filed on the same premise by advocate Kamini Jaiswal.

The Court, calling the petition wholly frivolous, contemptuous and unwarranted, said that the petition:

“aims at scandalizing the highest judicial system of the country, without any reasonable basis and filed in an irresponsible manner, that too by a body of persons professing to espouse the cause of accountability.”

The Court, hence, dismissed the petition with exemplary costs on CJAR in order to ensure that such attempt is not repeated in future. [Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms v. Union of India,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1406, decided on 01.12.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of RK Agarwal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar, JJ reserved verdict on the petition filed by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) wherin it was alleged that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court Judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam.

Earlier, the same bench had dismissed the petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal stating that there was no question of registering any FIR against any sitting Judge of the High Court or of this Court as it is not permissible as per the law laid down by a 5-judge Constitution Bench in K. Veeraswami v. Union of India, (1991) 3 SCC 655 ,wherein this Court observed that in order to ensure the independence of the judiciary the apprehension that the Executive being largest litigant, it is likely to misuse the power to prosecute the Judges.

The bench was formed after the Court of CJI witnessed huge ruckus after, 09.11.2017, a 2-judge bench of J Chelameswar and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ had said that the petition filed by Kamini Jaiswal be heard by the Constitution Bench of the first five Judges.

On 10.11.2017,  Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ, in the present case, ordered that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice for passing appropriate orders for listing this matter. When the CJI took note of the issue, he, along with 4 other judges, recalled the 2-judge bench order in Kamini Jaiswal matter that had placed the matter before a Constitution bench of the first five judges of the Supreme Court. The 5-judge bench said:

neither a two-Judge Bench nor a three-Judge Bench can allocate the matter to themselves or direct the composition for constitution of a Bench.”

The order will be pronounced on 01.12.2017. [Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Crl) No. 169/2017, order dated 27.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dismissing the petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal wherin it was alleged that that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court Judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam, the 3-judge bench of RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar, JJ held that there was no question of registering any FIR against any sitting Judge of the High Court or of this Court as it is not permissible as per the law laid down by a 5-judge Constitution Bench in K. Veeraswami v. Union of India, (1991) 3 SCC 655 ,wherein this Court observed that in order to ensure the independence of the judiciary the apprehension that the Executive being largest litigant, it is likely to misuse the power to prosecute the Judges.

Noticing that the FIR mentioned by the petitioner did not reflect the names of any of the Supreme Court judges, the bench said:

“The entire judicial system has been unnecessarily brought into disrepute for no good cause whatsoever. It passes comprehension how it was, that the petitioner presumed, that there is an FIR lodged against any public functionary.”

It was held that there cannot be registration of any FIR against a High Court Judge or Chief Justice of the High Court or the Supreme Court Judge without the consultation of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and, in case there is an allegation against Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, the decision has to be taken by the Hon’ble President, in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the said decision.

Upon the contention that a judicial order cannot be violated, and it could not have been rendered ineffective by the Constitution Bench decision of this Court dated 10.11.2017 and that by doing so the Chief Justice was being a judge in his own case, the bench relied upon the 3-judge bench decision in Dr. D C Saxena v. Chief Justice of India, (1996) 5 SCC 216, where it was held:

it was the duty of the Chief Justice to assign judicial work to brother Judges. By doing so, he did not become a Judge in his own cause. It is contempt to imply that the Chief Justice would assign it to a Bench which would not pass an order adverse to him.”

Regarding the contention that A.M. Khanwilkar, J. should have recused himself from the bench as he was a member of the Bench which disposed of the matter of Prasad Education Trust vide order dated 18.9.2017, the Court said that it was nothing but another attempt of forum hunting which cannot be permitted. The bench said:

“it is the duty of the Bench to take up such matter firmly; such unscrupulous allegations and insinuations cannot be allowed to be hurled by oral prayer made on behalf of the petitioner for recusal.”

To conclude, the bench said:

“Though it is true, that none of us is above law; no person in the higher echelons is above the law but, at the same time, it is the duty of both the Bar and the Bench, to protect the dignity of the entire judicial system.”

Coming down heavily upon the petitioner, who after arguing at length, at the end, submitted that she was not aiming at any individual, the Court said:

“If that was not so, unfounded allegations ought not to have been made against the system and that too against the Hon’ble Chief Justice of this country.”

Upon the question of unprecedented situation being created on 10.11.2017, the bench said:

“As Hon’ble Chief Justice of India had to assign it to a Bench, situation of dilemma was created for Hon’ble Chief Justice of India whether to assign the matter of CJAR to an appropriate Bench or to go by the judicial order by constituting a Bench of 5 senior Judges on 13.11.2017.”

The Court said that it deprecated the practice of forum hunting and that it cannot fall prey to such unscrupulous devices adopted by the litigants, so as to choose the Benches, as that is a real threat to very existence of the system itself and it would be denigrated in case we succumb to such pressure tactics. [Kamini Jaiswal v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1322, decided on 14.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

The Court number 1 of the Supreme Court witnessed a high voltage drama when a 7-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra, assembled for reviewing the 2-judge bench order calling for constitution of a Constitution Bench of the first five judges of the Supreme Court to hear the matter wherein it was alleged that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court Judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam. The bench of J Chelameswar and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ given the said order on 09.11.2017 and had listed the matter on November 13, 2017.

As per the petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal highlighted that a case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Retired Orissa High Court Judge, Justice IM Quddusi containing serious allegations implicating the said Judge under Section 8 and Section 120-B of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Also, in another related matter mentioned before the bench of Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ, Advocate Prashant Bhushan brought the order dated 09.11.2017 to the notice of the Court and hence, the Court ordered that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice for passing appropriate orders for listing this matter.

The 7-judge bench excluded Chelameswar, J, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court. Sikri and Bhushan, JJ also recused themselves from the bench and hence, the matter was then heard by a 5-judge bench of CJI along with RK Agrawal, Arun Mishra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, JJ.

The order of the 5-judge bench read:

“There can be no doubt that the Chief Justice of India is the first amongst the equals, but definitely, he exercises certain administrative powers.”

The bench relied upon the decision of a three-Judge Bench in State of Rajasthan vs. Prakash Chand, (1998) 1 SCC 1, wherin it was held that the Chief Justice of the High Court is the master of the roster and there is no justification not to treat the Chief Justice of India, who is the Chief Justice of the Apex Court, to have the same power.

It was added:

“Needless to say, neither a two-Judge Bench nor a three-Judge Bench can allocate the matter to themselves or direct the composition for constitution of a Bench. To elaborate, there cannot be any direction to the Chief Justice of India as to who shall be sitting on the Bench or who shall take up the matter as that touches the composition of the Bench. We reiterate such an order cannot be passed. It is not countenanced in law and not permissible.”

Amitava Roy, J, said:

“You are supporting the cause of accusing a sitting Chief Justice on his face!”

Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who filed the petition before the Court said that in the last one month, the CJI has taken up 6 matters that were before other benches.

To this, CJI responded:

“Yes! That is my prerogative. The MoP matter ought not to have been heard on the judicial side.”

Responding to the demands of certain advocates who said that the proceeding of the matter must be carried in camera and press should not be allowed to print it, CJI said:

“All of us collectively believe in freedom of speech as long as it is within limits. But I am always of the view that Freedom of Expression must be respected. I will not restrain the press.”

CJI, hence, directed that the matter be placed before him for forming an appropriate bench. The matter is now listed after 2 weeks. [Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1302, order dated 10.11.2017]

With inputs from: https://twitter.com/vikramhegde

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the seriousness and urgency of the matter wherein it was alleged that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam, the bench of J Chelameswar and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ said that the matter be heard by the Constitution Bench of the first five Judges and listed the matter on November 13, 2017.

The petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal highlighted that a case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Retired Orissa High Court Judge, Justice IM Quddusi containing serious allegations implicating the said Judge under Section 8 and Section 120 B of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Court, hence, agreed to hear the matter and said:

“The FIR contained certain allegations which are disturbing. The allegations pertain to the functioning of this Court. On perusal of the FIR which was placed before us in the morning, we thought it necessary and proper to take up the matter immediately.”

As an interim measure, the Court directed that the case diary and all the related materials be kept in a sealed cover and produce the same before the Constitution Bench on Monday, the 13th November, 2017.

The controversy relates to de-registration of 46 medical colleges by Central Government for substandard facilities. In September, 2017, CBI arrested the former High Court judge on allegations of hatching a conspiracy to bribe public officials, including Supreme Court judges after Supreme debarred the colleges from admitting students for academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19. [Kamini Jaiswal v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Criminal) No(s). 176/2017, order dated 09.11.2017]